A Steamboat to the Edge of the World

Steamboat by Gustave Le Gray
“Steamboat” by Gustave Le Gray

“God, why’s it so hot?”

“And this wind…it’s sinful!”

“What a perilous expedition we endure!”

It was a rancid day, to be sure. The sun beat upon the three ladies’ bonnets, nipping the tops of their ears and bruising the tips of their noses. Wind whipped their curls about their cheeks, and they joked that they were bound to turn over like tumbleweeds into the sea. They sat in white wicker chairs on the deck of the SS Sophronia, with cocktails in hand and gossip in mouth, their talk fluxing from complaints of the weather to devious fits of giggles. Behind each stood an attendant extending a parasol, and a lone fiddler scraped away at his instrument before them. Constance claimed that it was the perfect tune for wine, winking, and journeying to the edge of the world.

“Did you expect the weather to be so harsh?” Clementine asked.

Cordelia snorted. “When Martha — that incompetent cow — made the trip, she had nothing but praise for the climate. ‘Mild skies and still water, and then the drop was but a dream…’  Please!”

“Oh, but I’m certain that once we get to the edge it’ll be much nicer,” Constance said. She pointed to a line in her pamphlet. “See, it says here that upon arrival, the tourist will ‘be wrapped in a balmy breeze and pleasant aroma as the insignificance of his puny existence is thrust upon him.’ I think that sounds quite agreeable.”

Cordelia plucked a deviled egg from the platter in her attendant’s hand and popped it between her lips. “It’s common knowledge that Martha’s a filthy liar,” she said between mouthfuls,  “but I’m still determined to have a better time than she.”

“I’m sure we all will, dear,” Constance said, and she rested her pamphlet in her lap.

The SS Sophronia chugged along, belching mushrooms of smoke into the sky. She was a fine steamboat, all polished wood and bright paint, with a hardy paddle that scooped up the sea. And what a restless sea it was — for as the wind blew stronger, the waves peaked higher and the deck dipped lower. The fiddler’s bow skittered across his strings with each dip, and one attendant’s grip on his tray suffered such shakiness that the Arab salad was tossed across the deck. The ladies were too astir with excitement to notice.

A serious look folded into the lines of Clementine’s brow. “Suppose we fall off?”

Cordelia examined her nail bed. “Off what, dear?”

“Well, the edge.”

“Nonsense. This is a civilized affair, an elite destination. I’m sure they’ve set up ropes.”

Clementine didn’t seem so certain. “But I’ve heard of ships that get too close, and then the water sweeps them into the void, never to be seen again. What if we’re swallowed by oblivion?”

Pish,” Cordelia said with a flick of her gloved hand. “That’s just the common crop, poppet. We are on a luxury steamboat, with luxury service. We’ve paid good money to see the end of the world, not be sucked into it.”

“Just wait, it’ll be grand,” Constance said, and she once again quoted from her pamphlet. “‘At the edge, the visitor will be offered a pair of binoculars so that he can peer into the nothingness and search for meaning. Complimentary drinks will be served as atmospheric music is played.’”

“Oh, that does sound grand,” Clementine said, a smile perching upon her lips.

“Not if this horrid heat doesn’t let up!” Cordelia snapped her fingers forcefully and turned to her attendant. “You! Manservant! Raise and shade; you’re shaking about something dreadful!”

“Apologies, ma’am,” the man mumbled, and he lifted the parasol higher.

The swollen sun dangled low over the smokestacks of the boat, growing more bloated with each passing minute. But through all the wind and the heat and the rocking, the ladies still talked both small and large. Eventually, the fiddler’s bow was snatched from his hand by the wind, and he rushed into the cabin for a new instrument.

Constance gripped the laces of her bonnet as the wind howled about her neck. “Think of it, ladies! Many a scholar has travelled to the edge to question his greater purpose, to search for a god looming in the black! And us — we are to be one of those great seekers of truth!”

“Yes, but do you think we’ll be able to take home a souvenir?” Clementine asked.

The olive in Cordelia’s cocktail rattled against the glass. “Lord, we had better!” she exclaimed. “Else I will have nothing to shove in Martha’s insufferable face.”

Constance’s laugh was gobbled up by the roar of the waves. “But honestly! What a quest we’ve undertaken!”

“Really, I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about,” Cordelia said with a shrug.

Clementine clasped her hands in her lap. “I do hope I can bring home something.”

It was another tumultuous half hour before the ladies realized that the horizon was drawing closer and closer. “We are fast approaching!” Clementine squealed. “How dramatic!” was Constance’s reaction. Cordelia even tutted a “well, well.”

Then they were upon it.

Somewhere in the unimaginable deep, far beneath the steamboat and far beneath the quaking sea, a beast growled. Their bones shook. Their teeth rattled. It was a thunder that melted their very marrow — the sound of an ocean throwing itself off the edge of the world. They saw a waterfall, but a waterfall that fell into nothingness.

The sunburnt sky filtered off into streaks of orange and smoke and obscurity. What unfolded before them, past the edge of the spilling sea — well, the girls could not put words to it. It was expansive yet singular, empty yet somehow aware. They would need to get a more magnified look before they could ponder ‘the insignificance of their puny existences’.

The steamboat’s engine shuddered to a halt just before the bow could slide off the rushing edge. Indeed, there were ropes of red velvet that stretched across the brink for as far as the eye could see. A bell clanged from the mast, and the ladies were ushered to their feet by the attendants. As they were served champagne and caviar on toast, the fiddler returned with a new bow and the captain emerged from his cabin to ask them how they had fared the journey. They chatted for a bit over the rumble of the falls, commenting on the majesty of the oblivion that stretched before them. “Now, I’ll let you get to your sightseeing,” the captain finally said, and he left them on the deck with a pair of binoculars. The ladies handed their glasses to the attendants, and turned eagerly to look over the edge. Clementine was the first to lean over the railing and press the binoculars to her eyes.

“Oh, God!” she soon cried.

“Darling, what do you see?” Cordelia asked.

The poor girl stuttered. “Th-there’s…there’s…nothing!”

“Nothing?” Constance squinted into the void. “That can’t be right. Define nothing.”

“Oh, there’s nothing! Nothing at all! It’s all empty!”

“Give me that,” Cordelia said sharply. She snatched the binoculars from Clementine’s fingers and pressed the eyecups to her sockets.

Constance rested a hand on her shoulder. “What is it really?”

“Why don’t you believe me?” Clementine wept. She shook her head, back and forth, up and down, thrashing violently. “There’s nothing out there, there’s no purpose, nothing exists —”

“Have some propriety, girl!” Cordelia said with a huff. “I see…now wait a minute…I see…well, it’s almost like a glass, like a large mirror. And there’s me…and there you are, Constance, and Clementine too, and…” Her voice darkened. “…and Martha — the loathsome goat — and my mother and uncle and the estate and everyone! Everything! I see everything, our world, reflected and renewed!” She brought the binoculars down, revealing an agape mouth.

“That’s silly!” Constance said. “You can’t see everything the same as it is here. Likewise you can’t see nothing!”

Cordelia turned a taut expression on Constance. “Then do tell me, dear, since you’re so educated on the matter: what is one meant to see when she peers off the edge of the world? For I tell you, I see everything!”

“Mercy, mercy! There’s nothing!” came Clementine’s cry.

“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Constance said over the younger girl’s hysterics. “You’re supposed to find meaning, to see the truth. Your mind is to be enlightened! And everything can’t be meaningful, and nothing can’t have purpose!”

Cordelia sniffed the air, and handed off the binoculars to Constance. “By all means, search for your truth. Enlighten your mind. I eagerly await your insight.”

“I shall!” Constance said, and she glared into the lenses.

The SS Sophronia buckled beneath their feet, and off towards the stern, Clementine could be heard moaning as she slid across the deck. Cordelia and Constance gripped hard to the railing, but the three attendants and fiddler tumbled to their knees, champagne glasses shattering and fiddle strings snapping.

“I’m waiting, dear!” Cordelia shouted over the turbulence. “What is your scholarly conjecture?”

Constance frowned into the binoculars. “I — I can’t see clearly…”

NOOOOOOTHIIIIIING….!” Clementine’s wail was made distorted by the wind.

“Isn’t that rich!” Cordelia’s bonnet ripped from her hair and spiraled over the edge, but she paid it no mind. “You — you who have all the answers — you can’t even understand what lies before your own eyes!”

Constance flung her arms wide, and the binoculars went sailing into the abyss. “And you!  You see everything as you want to see it, because you’re soft of mind and vain of heart. You see yourself and your affluence, and it has no meaning, but you relish in it!”

“Better to relish in what I know than to shriek at the prospect of nothing!”

“How dare you drag Clementine into this! She’s simple!”

Ma’am.” Constance felt a hand grapple her ankle. She looked down from her outrage to see that one of the attendants had crawled across the slick deck to her. “Ma’am, we must turn back now,” he gasped out. “Captain’s orders. If you please, come under the awning now, ma’am.”

Cordelia heaved a sigh. “Oh, if we must.”

“Thank you, good sir,” Constance said curtly. She stepped over him, and Cordelia followed. “Come Clementine!” she called across to the stern.

It took a while for the attendants to procure new chairs (for the old wicker ones had been swept off the deck into the sea), but soon the three ladies were sitting again, and the steamboat’s engine purred to life. The horizon lagged further and further away, and so did the girls’ spirits.

“I didn’t even get a souvenir,” Clementine pouted.

Cordelia downed the contents of her glass in one shot, and grimaced. “Martha will be pleased, I’m sure. I can hear her petulant voice already. ‘Oh, Cordie, it’s a shame that you didn’t bring back a piece of nothing.’ Or is it…everything?” She shuddered.

Constance stared blankly into her wrinkled pamphlet. “Oh look. There’s to be a reception afterwards. Tea and biscuits with the captain. How grand.”

Clementine blinked up into the sky. “God, why’s it so hot?”

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

You Are The Fairy God-Author

I’m going to share a little secret with you guys. I know, I know; this might come as a shock to some of you. Prepare your pearls for clutching. Ready your forehead for smashing your keyboard. Just hear me out.

Fiction is a lawless realm, and you are the Fairy God-Author.

procure wand

Ahem. Allow me to elaborate.

This might come as a shock to you because I know so many writers who insist that there are rules. That there is a logic that has to be followed when writing. That you can’t just make mumbo-jumbo up and expect it to fly. Writing, they say, doesn’t work like thatThere needs to be a method to the madness.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you are a freakin’ Fairy God-Author, that you have a wand, and that you can wave it whichever way you please.


  1. As a writer, you have the right to wave that wand.

    change color

So many people approach creative writing like it’s some wild beast that they have to contain. On the one hand, I can understand that. The creative process finds its genesis in discombobulated emotions, flashes of imagery, and unstructured ideas. We want to control these impulses, to put them into an entity that can be deciphered and, after much editing, enjoyed.

The result, however, is not necessarily bad writing — but rigid writing. You’ll eventually get to a point where a character is in a pickle or a conflict remains unresolved, and you’ll find yourself grasping for a logical resolution.

Here’s where it’s ok for you to take a step back, elaborately unsheathe your wand, and teleport into that scenario guns blazing. Don’t cage the creative beast; observe it in its natural habitat.


2. Don’t be afraid to shake things up.stop the car

This is going to be the hardest bit to swallow. I know it was for me.

It’s ok if nothing makes sense at first.

I think that the biggest moment of clarity for me was when I sat down to write the climactic scene of my novel, and realized that I could literally do anything I wanted. This might seem conspicuous, but please understand: I had been deliberating over this particular scene for months. I had been building it up in my head for so long that when it came down to writing it, I was stuck. I couldn’t think of one plausible way for my main character to get out of this situation alive, and I certainly couldn’t just kill him off.

That’s when I gave myself a friendly slap on the wrist and said, “Darn it, I’m in charge!” and wrote something so ridiculous and out-of-the-blue that it kind of actually worked. After that, I progressed through the falling action feeling unstoppable.

Many great writers of the past were so great because they threw caution to the wind and wrote unapologetically. A prime example is Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a winding and nonsensical rollercoaster ride, but it lives on as one of the most enchanting and prolific children’s stories to date.

Sometimes the most creative writing is the weirdest. And the weirdest writing is almost always the most memorable.


3. Consider the consequences.spell will be broken

Let’s not kid ourselves here. If Special Agent Dangerface decides that the best way to eradicate an evil-doer is to burn down the entire city, then he’s going to have to face some undesirable consequences. Same goes if Jenny Goody-Two-Shoes wins the school talent show by riding in on a pterodactyl. I’m sure scientists will have a few pressing questions for her.

With great, Fairy God-Author power comes great responsibility. Some choices might come to back to bite you. There might be plot holes, jarring changes in tone, developments that don’t contextually make sense.

If you go trigger-happy, the spell will eventually break. This is inevitable.

…but it’s not the end-all, be-all of your story.


4. Work the crazy while you can.schmexy

Because that’s why we have second drafts: to tone down the preposterous, smooth over the mood-breaking, and fill in the plot holes.

What I’m trying to say is— have no reservations. Be unapologetic. Work that wand.

If you’re in a jam and want to make up some ridiculous scenario to get out of it, go for it. If you’re running dry on inspiration and are willing to do anything to move on to the next part of your story, go for it. If you want to write absurdly, go for it. If you want to write orderly, go for it.

You just might surprise yourself with what you come up with.

Some people might say that this is lazy writing. I don’t believe in lazy writing. If anything, lazy writing is when you don’t write at all.


Good luck, and happy writing! 🙂

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

Music Mondays: Writing Playlists Part VI

If you’re like me, stewing in silence is the key to getting nothing done. Whenever I’m writing, I need to have background music playing, some sort of soundtrack to make sense of my discordant thoughts. Some people just aren’t like that. I have friends who need to be immersed in quiet to study. I know other people who need to have noise, like coffee shop chatter or steady rainfall, to be productive.

Even if you don’t need music to get into the writing zone, I still encourage you to try out a few of these playlists. Who knows, maybe you’ll find the perfect tune for your long in-the-works story.


This mix is best served in the small, still hours of the night. With 24 tracks of pure instrumental guitar, it’s the perfect way to lull yourself into a writing trance.


Want a little adventure? Intrigue? Dark and dangerous mystery? Here’s an instrumental mix that plays to your inner secret agent. Optimal for writing gritty noir and detective dramas.


The piano pieces in this mix will transport you to the same creative realm from which all dreams are designed. A lovely accompaniment for delving into fantasies, both modern and medieval.


Who doesn’t love the glitzy machinations of a masquerade? From formal affairs to ballroom waltzes, this playlist will take your writing to the elegant and underhanded corners of courtly life.


If you’re interested in knowing the full track listing of a playlist, leave a comment and I’ll let you know.
Happy writing! 🙂

Welcome to the new Stellular Scribe!

giphy

Huzzah! I declare this site arisen!

So, I’m a senior in high school and have been pretty much swamped with applications, testing, school, and extracurricular work for the past five months. By some miracle, that dark and lifeless  stretch of time has managed to accumulate 300 followers on this blog! Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I do not deserve all of you.

In light of this glorious occasion, I have decided to get my act together and actually make some content that is not the random poem that I post at 2 in the morning every other week. That’s right, I’m making a post schedule — and I’m going to stick with it.

First things first: I’m sure you’ve noticed that this site has undergone a makeover. All of the artwork — the header, the background, and the profile image — are original works that I painted in Photoshop. If you are interested in looking at more of my doodles, you can check them out here.

Second things second: The schedule! I’ve done a lot of thinking on what kind of content I can provide for my followers, and I’ve narrowed it down to three days a week:


Mondays are Music Mondays.
If you weren’t aware, I have an account over at 8tracks where I make a lot of writing playlists. On Mondays, I’ll make a master post of great mixes for concentration, character archetypes, or just all around writing inspiration. If you are unable to access 8tracks, I will try to include a list of all the songs in the playlist so that you can go and listen to them for yourself, too! Along with these recommendations, I will write a little spiel giving my two cents on how to make time to write and relax while you’re doing it.

Wednesdays are Writing Tip Wednesdays.
I am by no means an expert on the English language or writing technique, but I have dedicated all of my energy and free time to writing over the past few years, and have picked up some helpful tips, tricks, and hacks along the way. On Wednesdays, I’ll share what I know with you — whether it be about voice, symbolism, character development, or subplots — and I hope that you can teach me some things along the way, as well.

And Fridays are Free-Write Fridays.
It’s exactly what it sounds like — on Fridays, I’ll post my latest poem, short story, or rambling thoughts. I see this as a great opportunity for me to grow and learn as a writer, and having a date on which to share what I’ve been working on will give me some concrete motivation to write even more!


I’m really eager to get started and enter into a new era of writing! Once again, thank you everyone for your support, for your likes, for your comments, for your follows. I know it might not seem like much, but it means a lot to me. 🙂

A Love Letter to a Selkie

faith’s a funny thing, but you
knew that, I’m sure,
when you washed up tangled
in kelp on that rain beaten shore,
and when I took your hand and
wiped the sand from your cheek,
the fur of your fathers
shed in a heap at the feet of
our bed you said with salt on your tongue
that faith’s a lot like water when
the sea fills your lungs and you
hold it in your palms with your fingers
pinched tight but it slips through the
cracks and tips into the night,
you can’t hold water in your hands
but damn it, you can try, and I think
with those words you started to cry,
faith’s a funny thing, but you
knew that, I know,
when you said I was waiting
for him to come home
even after the storm had stolen
back all the tides, just a fisherman’s wife
with a fisherman’s pride, and I
filled that sea with seven sick tears,
I lied to that sea so that you could be here,
and you are like holding
water in my hands,
and you are like swimming back
to the mainland,
and I’ll hide those furs that fell
at our feet on that very first day,
at our very first meeting when you said
faith’s a funny thing, you see?
I see.

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

A Cup of Tomorrow

I pretend to have no reservations
say the world’s not made of glass
but blood has signed my resignation
it stains the walls, it stains the grass

the front lawn’s occupied by gnomes
they tap the door day and night
I answer, this is not my home
they were never there, in hindsight

nonsense is my mockingbird
she tells me, open the window
but silly me, I never heard
and locked her tight in my shadow

I pretend to have no reservations
the waitress sits me next to sorrow
but I hadn’t any preparation
and order a cup of tomorrow

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

rising with the curtains

glinting off your sequined dress I
see myself and all the rest, and think it’s
funny, how they say the night falls, because
in your voice it stands mighty tall, rising
with the curtains and beaming
like the moon and stirring up the
jazz band until it sings above the rest, stars
glinting off your sequined dress.